Latin Conference & Awards

Widespread Panic Preps 'Don't Tell The Band'

Renowned jam band Widespread Panic will on June 19 release its Sanctuary Records debut, "Don't Tell The Band." Produced by John Keane and recorded in his studio in the band's hometown of Athens, Ga.,

Renowned jam band Widespread Panic will on June 19 release its Sanctuary Records debut, "Don't Tell The Band." Produced by John Keane and recorded in his studio in the band's hometown of Athens, Ga., the 12-track set delivers the band's trademark storytelling via a diverse pastiche of musical styles.

"Don't Tell" features 11 new original songs, as well as a cover of fIREHOSE's "Sometimes" (the opening track of the defunct band's 1987 sophomore album, "If'n"). The latter cut sports a guest appearance by sax player Randall Bramblett (Steve Winwood).

"This is probably one of the most well-rounded albums we've made, with everybody having equal input in the songwriting," singer/guitarist John Bell says of the new material. "Truly, we all write the songs. Everybody's encouraged to go ahead and come up with anything that is sparking them creatively."

The initial pressing of "Don't Tell The Band" will include a second disc with 30 minutes of live material captured last year in Athens. Although the band usually allows fans to tape its shows, Panic changed the policy for the hometown show. "This was the only occasion we asked the kids not to tape so we could have exclusive music," Bell says. "Fortunately, they were very respectful of that."

Preceding the album's release, Panic will kick off a 12-date tour April 18 in Oxford, Ohio, that is scheduled to end with two gigs associated with the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Near the end of May, the band will play a pair of shows at Las Vegas' Sam Boyd Stadium supporting the Dave Matthews Band (along with Angelique Kidjo and Macy Gray), followed by a trio of performances at the end of June at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo. Ticket information for all dates can be found on the band's official Web site.

As previously reported, Panic keyboardist/vocalist John "JoJo" Hermann will release his debut solo album, "Smiling Assassin," Tuesday (April 10) via Fat Possum Records. The album features guest appearances by Panic's Bell and Todd Nance, Luther and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi All-Stars, Bloodkin's Paul Edwards, Blue Mountain's Cary Hudson, and George McConnell of the Kudzu Kings.

Widespread Panic's last studio album for Capricorn, 1999's "'Til The Medicine Takes," debuted at No. 68 on The Billboard 200, and has sold 166,000 copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan. Last year, the band released a live album with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, "Another Joyous Occasion," on its own Widespread label.

Here are Widespread Panic's spring/summer tour dates:
April 18: Oxford, Ohio (Millet Hall, Miami University)
April 20: Knoxville, Tenn. (Chilhowee Park)
April 21: Raleigh, N.C. (Alltel Pavilion @ Walnut Creek)
April 22: Macon, Ga. (Macon Centreplex)
April 24: Savannah, Ga. (Savannah Civic Center)
April 25: Mississippi State, Miss. (Humphrey Coliseum)
April 27: Huntsville, Ala. (Von Braun Civic Center)
April 28: Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Murphy Center)
April 29: Charlotte, N.C. (Center Cityfest 2001)
May 1: Montgomery, Ala. (Garrett Coliseum)
May 3: New Orleans (Jazz & Heritage Festival)
May 4: New Orleans (Municipal Auditorium)
May 26-27: Las Vegas (Sam Boyd Stadium)
June 22-24: Morrison Colo. (Red Rocks Amphitheatre)
July 3: Milwaukee (Summerfest @ Marcus Amphitheatre)